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Fast Times At Barrington High (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

For half a decade, the Academy Is... watched from the sidelines as Fall Out Boy became the Midwestern kings of emo. Fast Times at Barrington High makes a well-deserved grab for the crown, though, flaunting a combination of rock & roll bombast and pop-schooled songwriting. It's hard to tell how much credit belongs to frontman William Beckett, whose vocals and songwriting skills have nicely progressed since the band's debut, and which accolades go to Sam Hollander and Dave Katz, the production team otherwise known as S*A*M & Sluggo. Perhaps it's no coincidence that the album's first six songs, all written with the duo's help, are also the most radio-ready pop numbers here. "Summer Hair = Forever Young" is a fist-pumping declaration to youth and warm weather, while "His Girl Friday" — the highlight of side A — boasts the sort of muscled, sugary chorus found on albums by Motion City Soundtrack and Jimmy Eat World. The mood changes slightly during the album's latter half, where Beckett takes over the songwriting reigns and steers his band closer to the rock camp. "Beware! Cougar!" is a particular highlight, while "After the Last Midtown Show" pays tribute to Gabe Saporta's former band with piano flourishes and vocal harmonies. Fast Times at Barrington High doesn't go to the hoop with every song, but it scores more than enough points to make it a career highlight, not to mention one of the best emo-pop albums of 2008.

Customer Reviews

Trip Down Memory Lane.

Reminiscent of reasons why some of us fell in love with The Academy Is... from back in the "Almost Here" days; "Fast Times" is full of youthful ideas and melodies, compounding ideas that continually resonate within the teenage spectrum of love, life, expectation, happiness, and friendship. But not only does it successfully capture the angsty-passionate teenage years of everyone's heart with upbeat and poignantly clear lyrics, it also gives way to what has been missing in the golden path that this band treads: effortless style. I find that The Academy Is... is a constantly moving idea of perfection, and with these changes from album to album, the bands insightfully pulls more from life's circumstances to focus their sound, vocals/lyrics, and beats. They made this album and listening to it it effortless, as I imagine their approach to music has now become with a successful sophemore album under their belts. This album feels right. Everyone can relate to it, even though you might be far away from those early high school days or just embarking upon them with wide eyes; TAI has officially hit the core of finding beauty within existence in whatever place in your life you might be. Thus making this album timeless. Go ahead, relive memories, and remeber your "Fast Times" through high school. Forget your cares, maybe cry, but don't forget to laugh and stay young.


i was really hoping for some jamming new music, but noooOOOOooo, they can't do that. okay, so here's the lowdown, all the songs are the same chords, similar melodies with crescendo-ing choruses and singing about high school. are they having some sort of mid-life crisis already? i mean, come on...they're like 23-25 or something, lets do more mature stuff now, not stuck in barrington high. almost here was pretty darn good. santi was absolute gold, that propelled them to my top 5 favorite bands. fast times? a huge big fat let down. almost here was a mix between pop and rock. santi was more solely alternative. and fast times is so sugary and poppy that i think i may go into a diabetic coma. though i do enjoy about a girl, which is why i gave it two more stars than it deserved. maybe it'll grow on me? well in any case i'm not clicking buy album anytime soon.

an old fan

This sounds like an entirely different band, where's my favorite band i used to love?


Formed: 2003 in Hoffman Estates, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Formerly in rival bands on the Chicago local scene, guitarist Mike Carden and vocalist William Beckett came together in 2003 to mark the beginning of emo-pop outfit the Academy Is... (originally named "the Academy"). Naming influences from U2 to Weezer to Pink Floyd, the duo added bassist Adam Siska (Beckett's classmate from high school), along with a second guitarist and drummer, to record 2004's The Academy EP for hometown label LLR Recordings. As luck would have it, fellow Chicagoan Pete Wentz...
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Top Albums and Songs by The Academy Is...

Fast Times At Barrington High (Bonus Track Version), The Academy Is...
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